OPED: Perry's climate comments off base

Stephanie Myers
York City

I couldn’t help but reply to Rep. Scott Perry’s somewhat snarky letter, “Perry takes issue with Dispatch view of his climate record." It contains a number of statements designed to mislead the public.

Recently, Perry introduced an amendment to “strike the requirement for the secretary of defense to submit a report on the vulnerability to military installations resulting from climate change over the next 20 years.” Perry characterized this requirement as a waste that could be better spent elsewhere.

He cited that a number of agencies had, “to varying degrees,” produced climate change-adaptation plans or assessments. The problem is, these were prior to December of 2014, as was the Department of Defense baseline survey of “nearly 7,000 installations and other facilities.” Unfortunately, “the need to assess and manage the risks associated with the impacts of climate change” is not a static process.

Effects of climate change are accelerating, as are the impacts of those effects. What was true prior to 2014 may no longer be valid data on which to base decisions that would affect millions.

The Pentagon differs with Perry on the level of national security threat that climate change presents for the U.S. The Pentagon places it very high on the list and Perry has, in the past, criticized this designation.

In his letter, Rep. Perry employs a transparent attempt to cast environmentalists in an adversarial role against the U. S. military. He accuses bureaucrats and climate “extremists” of insisting they know “better than our men and women in uniform about how to carry out the mission to protect our country?”

But really, in his criticism of threat rating, isn’t it Perry who is doing this?

In the second part of his letter, Perry attempts to cast himself as an environmental champion and bipartisan hero. He is once again touting his hydropower crush, even though when it comes to solar/wind, he has said at more than one town hall meeting, he doesn’t “like to pick winners and losers.”

 Hydropower can be an important, albeit limited, source of clean energy for our future, and I will not trivialize its contribution. But in the end, hydropower is dependent on precipitation, and each region’s capacity to maintain water flow in the future climate is uncertain.

Despite his attempt to promote his recent “environmentalism,” Perry has consistently been on the side of polluters and the fossil industry, not on the side of the public right to clean air and water. Nor does his voting history show concern for the destructive effects of fossil fuels on our global climate. The proof is in the voting record.

In the past eight months, Perry was 11 for 11 against the environment in actions that aim to hobble the EPA’s ability to protect the public, overturn rules for methane capture, increase fossil-industry influence in regulation and overturn public protection for those living near mining operations. (See Clean Water Action)

Perry also continues to assert that we need dirty energy to have jobs. As other states and nations are demonstrating, converting to all-renewable fuels is where our economic strength will come from, not destructive oil and gas.

Perry cites Open Secrets to show roughly $13 million in contributions from environmental groups to federal candidates. Sadly, this number is dwarfed by oil and gas contributions to federal candidates. In 2016, 88 percent of the $103 million in contributions from the oil and gas industry went to Republicans (Open Secrets).
I could be more generous in spirit to Perry if he showed that he was open to learning from those climate activists that he meets with “all the time.”  But I see a closed mind, unmoved by incredibly well-supported climate change evidence.

We cannot accept what a recent editorial rightfully termed “willful ignorance” to dictate our climate action any longer. It’s time we had representation that looks to preserving our future, not clinging to the past.

— Stephanie Myers is a local science educator.